Tarikhaneh: the oldest existing mosque in Iran

June 9, 2020 - 19:17

Photos depict scenes from Tarikhaneh Mosque, which was once a Sassanid-era (224–651) temple, located near the modern city of Damghan, central Iran, June 2, 2020.

Some sources including the ArchNet, a collaborative digital humanities project focused on Islamic architecture, say that the Tarikhaneh Mosque is the oldest existing mosque in the country.

Also called Tarik Khana, the monument incorporates a simple Arab plan with Sassanian construction techniques.

An arcade lines the central courtyard, a single bay deep on all but the qibla side where it increases to three bays. The central aisle on the qibla arcade is wider and taller than the others, a form that presciently indicates the later ubiquitous monumental axis of Persian architecture.

The arcades, recalling Sassanian precedents, are formed of fired brick arches, elliptical and sometimes slightly pointed, and massive circular brick piers.

Standing together at a distance from the mosque are the remains of a square minaret of uncertain date, possibly part of the original construction period, and a cylindrical minaret from the Seljuk period (1060-1307). The latter is strikingly divided into six zones of ornamentation, each rendered in brick with a different geometric pattern.

The prayer hall of a mosque is where the rich and poor, prominent and ordinary people, all stand and bow together in the same rows. Women may participate in the prayers, but they must occupy a separate space or chamber in the mosque. No statues, ritual objects, or pictures are used in mosques. The only decorations permitted are inscriptions of Quranic verses and the names of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions.


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